Tag Archives: Chelsea

Diamonds in MLS Rough: Michael Ballack is Just Fool’s Gold

By Kevin Koczwara

Drew Carey, a part owner of the Seattle Sounders as well as a comedian and former television star, took part in a panel discussion about soccer analytics at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on Saturday, March 3. He represented Major League Soccer on the panel that included mostly technical directors from European clubs. And yet, Carey, not a career soccer person or scout, unveiled the most wisdom on how teams are tying to use analytics, especially his team in a global market flushed with teams and money.

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Manchester City’s Biggest Loss and Chelsea’s Savior: Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge has been Chelsea's best for much of the season.

 By Kevin Koczwara

Mario Balotelli and Kun Aguero set the pace for Manchester City against Chelsea on Monday, Dec. 13. Chelsea looked vulnerable and in trouble again, something not all too unfamiliar this season for the Blues. Then the ball skipped to Daniel Sturridge, playing to the right of Didier Drogba, and he carved past a fumbling Gael Clichy, crossed a beautiful ball across the edge of the six-yard-box to a surging Raul Meireles, who scored his first goal for Chelsea since transferring in the summer from Liverpool — and since getting that terrible haircut. The game was level again. Chelsea no longer found itself in a hole, thanks to Sturridge’s play.

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Emptying out the top-drawer; thoughts on soccer world March 2011

By Kevin Koczwara

This will be a monthly column, I hope, where I dump out the random thoughts I have accrued over the last month. These thoughts are the ones I’ve tried to write columns about and have failed to materialize into anything tangible or readable.

Let’s begin with Arsenal.

Arsenal boggle the mind. The Gunners lose to Birmingham City in the League Cup final on one of the year’s most laughable goals. Then they go on and smash Leyton Orient in what should have been an unneeded FA Cup replay, 5-0, and Nicklas Bendtner scores a hat-trick. Why is the thrashing of Orient a surprise? Well, Bendtner scored a hat-trick. That’s why. It’s an absolute shock he can put together three goals in one game at times. He fumbles over his feet, misplaces passes more often Jake Delhomme, and he isn’t very good int he air despite his height.

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Arsenal let another trophy slip, but EPL still in sight

By Jonathan Gold

About the only thing Arsenal fans can take away from the awful joke that has been the last 72 hours of English soccer, the Gunners are still just four points behind Manchester United – and with a game in hand, no less.

Without trying to excuse in any way the horror that was this year’s League Cup final, let me point out that it was, in fairness, the League Cup final. It’s cold comfort, of course. There’s no getting around the fact that it’s far and away the least prestigious silverware that top-flight clubs regularly contest.

Manchester United, however, might not have lost in such a hands-over-faces horrifying way, but their loss to Chelsea could very well be a lot more important.

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Chelsea and Lille on different paths this season

Didier Drogba and Chelsea had their hopes of repeating as English Premier League with the unexpected loss to Liverpool over the weekend. (Courtesy Eric P Flickr)

By Ryan Fleming

In one of the more unpredictable weeks in the soccer world this year, there are a couple things to take note of, if you haven’t already.

1. Chelsea are struggling … still.

Despite their recent acquisitions of Davie Luiz and Fernando Torres, the Blues slipped, slid and went away with a whimper after their 1-0 loss to Liverpool. Naturally, much of the hype from the match surrounded the former Liverpool frontman, Torres, and how he would fair against his old club and if he would or would not celebrate if managed to score. Fortunately for the Reds new manager Kenny Dalglish, Torres was barely existent on the field, save for one scary moment that Jamie Carragher so gracefully blocked away.

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Dalglish deserves long-term to lead Liverpool

By Kevin Koczwara

Not many people thought Liverpool had a chance at qualifying for European competition next year when the club lingered closer to the bottom in October. Things changed quickly though.

Now, people are talking about fighting for the coveted fourth place in the Premier League and a chance to play in the Champions League, despite the team’s leading scorer and talisman striker, Fernando Torres, walking out on the club just before the January transfer window slammed shut.

The change in the mood around Melwood and Anfield is because of Kenny Dalglish. It’s that simple. Since his appointment as interim manager, Liverpool has been resurrected.

Chelsea latest to feel the King’s wrath

The Reds went into Stamford Bridge yesterday the underdogs, and riding a three-game winning streak. To top it off, Fernando Torres was starting his first game with his new club, Chelsea, after turning his back on Liverpool. Liverpool tried to arrange a gentlemen’s agreement with Chelsea when the two teams worked out the $80 million deal for Torres during the closing moments of the transfer window. It didn’t happen, and there was no way Liverpool could beat Chelsea in London without its best player, right?

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Chelsea and Liverpool Bid to Save Seasons [Part 2]

Kenny Dalglish has revitalized Liverpool after he took over for Roy Hodgson as the manager. The Scot has brought back the treasured Liverpool Way and instilled those values throughout the club. (Courtesy 1000goals.com)

By Kevin Koczwara

In Part 1, I looked over Chelsea’s move for Fernando Torres, this is my look at Liverpool’s side of the deal. If you missed Part 1, click here.

What did Liverpool get with the sale of Fernando Torres? Well, it got $80 million to spend on Andy Carroll from Newcastle and to help pay off the fee for Luis Suarez from Ajax. The Reds got a two-for-one deal in a way, and they got some younger players at that.

Torres is 26-years-old and entering the pinnacle of his career, while Suarez is 24 and just emerging into the full-blown player he can be and Carroll is still 22 and beginning to understand how good he can be. If everything pans out with Suarez and Carroll and they become top-level players, then Liverpool swindled their rivals from London.

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Chelsea and Liverpool Bid to Save Seasons [Part 1]

Roman Abramovich saw his Chelsea team failing to live up to potential this season, and he took some drastic measures and invested in the transfer market to ensure the team improved. (Courtesy Marina Lystseva)

By Kevin Koczwara

Neither Liverpool or Chelsea started the 2010/11 English Premier League season the way they wanted to. Neither team has lived up to any of their hype or their past glories. Both needed a change. Did anyone expect this to happen though?

Let’s start in London with Chelsea and work our way north to the Merseyside to visit Liverpool [Part 2].

The Blues started the season off like a piston firing on all cylinders, but it was as if someone forgot to check the oil and the they all started rubbing, grinding metal on metal before coming close to a halt. Chelsea scored 12 goals in its opening two games of the season and looked like it was going to run ragged on the Premier League again this season, maybe even securing another double – a bigger double, one that included Roman Abramovich’s prized Champions League trophy.

Things started to unravel for Chelsea in October. Frank Lampard got injured. Ramires hadn’t adapted to the Premier League’s pace and speed well (he is improving with every game and could be well worth the money spent). Youngsters Daniel Sturridge and company weren’t producing. John Terry and Alex seemed to be forming a strong partnership in the center of the defense, they both got injured. Didier Drogba fell off the boil, in fact he stopped starting and contracted Malaria – good excuse, but still, he slowed down and still hasn’t caught up to speed yet.

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Wilshere thinks Arsenal can challenge Manchester United for English Premier League title

Jack Wilshere (right) believes Arsenal can catch Manchester United at the top of the English Premier League. If the Gunners are to catch the Red Devils, the team will need Andrei Arshaven (left) to step up. (Courtesy Jonathan Ross)

By Ryan Fleming

It’s been a while since I thought a handful of teams were actually capable of pushing by the often-fortuitous Manchester United or the pesky Chelsea to reach the top of the English Premier League. This season it all seems to be rather perplexing. The Red Devils are currently in the top spot, but with Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and the loose-spending Manchester City all struggling to maintain momentum through any part of the season, the league’s title might just go to the team that screws up the least.

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere told The Guardian that he believes United can be caught and his club can surpass them. I’ll go along with the youngster’s statement. After watching countless United games and being absolutely unimpressed with almost all of them, one has to wonder why the Red Devils are in first place to begin with.

Yes, they lead the league in goals scored and are second in goals allowed, but if not aided by the timely, yet completely random out burst of Dimitar Berbatov’s five-goal effort at the hands of Blackburn back on Nov. 27th, the Red Devils would be back closer to the rest of the league. Their performance as of late is of a mind-changing manner. Despite going 2-0-1 in their last three games, United have seemed rather lethargic and have made a rarity of awe-inspiring wins – often playing down to their competition.

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Anelka and Ibrahimovic arrivals would boost MLS reputation

By Kevin Koczwara

Nicolas Anelka said he would like to play in the MLS once his contract expires at Chelsea in 2012. (Courtesy Jay Meydad)

By Kevin Koczwara

Nicolas Anelka and Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t be the youngest studs on the ranch when they decide to move the Major League Soccer. Anelka will be 33 in 2012, when his contract at Chelsea expires, and he expects there to be suitors in America to pick up his big salary desire and a more competitive league in the MLS by then. Ibrahimovic will be 33 as well when his contract expires with AC Milan – his sixth club –and he decides to plunge into the American soccer market.

With all the rumors swirling about layers like Ibrahimovic and Anelka moving to the MLS one has to wonder: is the MLS becoming a last stop on the professional soccer express? Yes. Is that a bad thing? No.

Americans want brand name everything — that’s not a secret — and as of right now, the MLS can’t afford brand name soccer players with its narrow budget. It just isn’t possible. So, we will have to live with the alternative: soccer stars in the dwindling pinnacle of their careers.

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